Tumble/Love Press
Grandpa's Ghost

Lollipop Magazine Tumble/Love Review

TIME OUT NEW YORK, January 9-16, 2003

Album Reviews

Grandpas Ghost (The Tumble/Love Version): Hear Past The Static (Upland)

By Mike Wolf  It takes a special band to put out two worthwhile double-CDs in consecutive years, let alone two that are thrilling and confounding in equal measure, and markedly different from each other. Yet here is St. Louis-area trio Grandpa's Ghost, following up 2001s Stardust & Smog, a murky, psych- and country-tinged release, with this decidedly murkier and noisier one.

Finding meaning within the gnarled mass of guitars splattered across the two discs may be beside the point. Each song crashes headlong into the next, with barely enough time for a breath between them, until the track numbers on your CD player begin to look arbitrary. Each disc is anchored-and a little weighted down-by one track exceeding 25 minutes (there are a few 9- and 10-minutes ones, too). Some covers you may know, but good luck recognizing "Leaving, on a Jet Plane" or the Neil Young obscurity "Love in Mind" (though Ginsberg fans should know the Howl excerpt, here titled "With You in Rockland").

The most satisfying thing about (The Tumble/Love Version) is that Grandpa's Ghost can succeed so mightily with a relentlessly discordant guitar sound that hasn't been in vogue since the American rock underground of the late 80s, around the last time that everyone agreed Sonic Youth was cool. Frontman Ben Hanna's vocals are generally atonal, bordering between spoken and screamed, and his bands rock is defiantly unkempt and unfashionable, regardless of your tastes. But there's a rewarding sort of triumphant weariness in every dense song, a primal spirit that's missing from nearly all of the soulless dreck poising as rock today. For the rock-starved, its a record full of woolly mysteries to lose oneself in. Those who favor fashion over passion likely wont notice it at all.


DENVER WESTWORD, January 23, 2003

Grandpa's Ghost Hear Past the Static (The Tumble/Love Version) (Upland)

By Michael Roberts. The folks at Owned & Operated, the Fort Collins label founded in 1997 by members of the punk band All, say their Upland subsidiary specializes in "roots rock." But this description fits the latest recording by Grandpa's Ghost, based in teensy Pocahontas, Illinois-like the glove into which O.J. Simpson couldnt squeeze his hand. Anyone expecting to hear acoustic-guitar plucking and campfire-friendly melodies will probably be rattled to within an inch of their lives by the instrumental assault dished out by Ben Hanna and a handful of co-conspirators with similar taste in Crazy Horse-style sonic bombardment.

Statics first disc, subtitled Tumble, features Hanna originals that range from relatively straightforward noise opuses like "The Queen of Crumpled Steel" to the two-part "Dead Head," which intersperses poetic mutterings with industrial racket. As for the second CD, dubbed Love, its dominated by covers that hardly resemble the originals-most prominently an evisceration of Bloodrocks "D.O.A." that rides the feedback wave for 27 wild minutes. The results can be self-indulgent at times, but theyre also feral in a way that's as rare as steak tartare. Roots rock will never be the same.


RIVERFRONT TIMES, December 25 - 31, 2002

Radar Station

By Rene Spencer Saller. In November Grandpa's Ghost released (The Tumble/Love Version), their sixth full-length and their third on Upland Records, a Colorado-based label headed by the legendary author/scenester/indie icon Joe Carducci. Like last years Stardust & Smog, its a double album that fascinates and frazzles, a crazy-quilt sonic pastiche of pretty acoustic shimmer, feral hardcore, twisted psychedelia and experimental roots rock. This time around, regular members Ben Hanna, Bill Emerson and Jack Petracek are joined by a disparate array of guest musicians, including Tobi Parks and Blueberry McGregor (of the Star Death), Mike Martin (of Tinhorn), Chris Dee (of the Conformists), and Dave Stone. Yeah, the damn thing is probably way too long for most practical purposes, but since when has the Ghost cared about being practical? These guys are artists, not profit-driven hacks, and they've created the perfect accompaniment for those of us who wanna spend the waning days of the year holed up in the shanty getting a good buzz on.



Play By Play

Grandpas Ghost (The Tumble/Love Version): Hear Past The Static (Upland)

By Kevin Renick.  Yikes! They're not just content to sit on their porch with acoustics out there in Pocahontas, Illinois, this time, like on their previous record, Stardust and Smog. Nor are they offering soundtracks to the subconscious and the mysteries of the universe as on their 2000 masterpiece, Il Bacio. No, Grandpa's Ghost are going right for the throat this time, kids. This two-disc set is an all-out assault on the senses, with a furious feast of feedback a la Neil Youngs Arc/Weld. There's a dash or two of early Sonic Youth here; hell, there's some Metal Machine Music-like moments.

With an attitude beyond even punks abandon, guitarists Ben Hanna and Bill Emerson and drummer Jack Petracek blast these blistering noisescapes into the chilly air, losing themselves, and quite probably most listeners, in the process. Their complete aural mutilation of John Denvers "Leaving, On a Jet Plane" is really quite humorous and goes up there with what the Residents did to the Rolling Stones "Satisfaction" back in the 70s (i.e., render it unrecognizable). The 28-minute electric multi-guitar crash that comprises "D.O.A." may or may not be based on the morbid Bloodrock tune about, well, an airplane crash-its hard to tell because this is all noisy, feverish guitar chaos, kinda like maybe being in a horrible accident, tumbling down a steep hill, then wandering around in shock for half an hour.Chris Dee and Dave Stone contribute to this charming madness, which is followed, in true Ghost fashion, by an unlikely-and almost delicate-Neil Young cover, "Love In Mind." The Ghost are well-established disciples of Young, not only in their love of fuzzed-out electric guitar soundscapes, but in Neils oft-voiced belief that capturing the feel of the moment is what matters most.

Its figuring out what that "feel" might have been that creates some of the fun of GG records. Artistically, these guys are spooky-and I mean that as a compliment. Something happened to them since their early days making rootsy, almost normal records; their aesthetic, their whole attitude toward music became much more willful and insular. And whatever the precipitating events, the inspiration resulted in musical art of exceptional originality; moments on both their previous records (and keep in mind that Stardust and Smog was a double, like this one) are among the most startling and hypnotic sounds ever to come out of this region. Some of the crunchy rock here, like "Blackie," "The Queen of Crumpled Steel," "Cheap Bracelet," and the potent "Black Velvet Stars" and its companion piece "War," both of which feature the Star Deaths Tobi Parks on bass, could probably be slipped into the changer at a beer-fueled party without too many complaints; it has tremendous energy and rock n roll panache.

But some of the meandering narrative moments on disc two and the more abrasive feedback workouts will be taxing to many listeners. And you know what? Good! Grandpa's Ghost have a real sense of abandon in their music that many lesser bands could learn from. They don't reveal the "whys" of what they do; their goals are musical self-expression and psychic/visceral release, and if the results limit their audience, well, too damn bad. I love the unpredictable nature of this band; they are denizens of a rock- n- roll wilderness that is rapidly being deforested. And they can reach deep into your senses to responses you didnt know you were capable of if you let them. As this albums subtitle says, you have to Hear Past the Static to get the Ghost. And even if you dont, oh, well. Whoever said life-or art-should be easy?

"No, I really can't condone this."
Steve Pick, St. Louis Music Critic
One sentence review of Tumble/Love CD

Stardust and Smog Press

Il Baccio Press